The Spring 2019 issue is ready for download.
If you are looking for a really great step speaker, head over to the Tuesday Night Speaker Meeting Group in Haltom City on Tuesday Nights at 7:00pm!
Presentation given by Erica C., Delegate Panel 67, Area 10 Colorado at the 2017 Southwest Regional Forum, San Antonio, TX
The first time I met with my first sponsor to begin Step work, I arrived fifteen minutes early at the restaurant where we had agreed to meet. I showed up with my brand-new, hot-off-the-press fourth edition Big Book complete with blue and yellow dust jacket. After I ordered my coffee, I placed the book on the edge of the table so that the waitstaff and other customers might see what a sorry state I was in. Poor little Erica, condemned to a life in Alcoholics Anonymous!
When my sponsor arrived, she took a look at the book, looked at me, and told me I needed to put a new cover on it—one that would conceal its title when I was out in public. Conveniently, the dust jacket is sheer white on the inside—I turned it inside out and wrapped my book in it while my new sponsor explained how anonymity was the spiritual foundation of all of our principles in A.A. She said I had no right to break my anonymity as an A.A. member before I had had any experience in recovery to demonstrate A.A. principles to others. Moreover, I never had the right to break another member’s anonymity, including hers, which I had broken by implication when I showed off my Big Book to all of the patrons in the restaurant. Then she asked me to read the essays on Traditions Eleven and Twelve with a laser focus on the principle of humility and self-sacrifice.
As clueless as I had been that morning, I read those two essays in the evening and felt deeply that humility and self-sacrifice—the abandonment of personal distinction inside or outside of the Fellowship as a function of my experience as an alcoholic—were practices that I sorely lacked. I was keenly aware of my desperate need for a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. And through the guidance of this sponsor and our literature, I learned that one way to assure that I am practicing a genuine humility is to maintain my personal anonymity as an A.A. member at the public level, to be rigorous about practicing the principle of anonymity within the Fellowship, and to continually avoid personal distinction within A.A.
It is easy to think of anonymity simply as a matter of confidentiality. Our anonymity promise assures newcomers they can join the Fellowship without exposure to public ridicule or the stigma associated with alcoholism. There is, however, another dimension of anonymity—the spirit of the principle itself. The spirit of anonymity focuses less on confidentiality and more on humility and self-sacrifice. This can be much trickier because of its subtlety and its demand that we each, as A.A. members, constantly examine our motives in the way that we relate to one another.
As our Big Book says, one way that we help each other is by disclosing our shortcomings, so that others might identify with us and therefore reflect on their own practices. So in the interest of disclosure, I will share a few ways that I have acted outside of the spirit of anonymity as an A.A. member.
First… I once shared a sobriety anniversary with my friends on Facebook. Because my post was private, this act did not break the letter of anonymity. However, because my motive in posting the anniversary was a desire for praise and accolades for this milestone, I did break the spirit of anonymity.
Second… I have put A.A. members on a pedestal and sought prestige by associating with people whom I deemed important in the Fellowship. Again, this has nothing to do with confidentiality, but it reflects a lack of humility on my part as I seek to place others above myself or myself above others.
Third… I have told someone that I was in A.A. to elicit interest, intrigue, or sympathy. Because this was a personal disclosure, I did not break anonymity at the public level. However, my motives were not selfless, as I was seeking personal distinction as a function of my membership in A.A.
Fourth… I have discussed my work and professional life with A.A. members to seem special. Again, this was a subtle attempt to set myself apart from my fellow A.A. members—to obtain special distinction within A.A. One of the advisory actions from the 67th General Service Conference is to add more discussion about the spirit of anonymity, humility, and self-sacrifice to the pamphlet “Understanding Anonymity.” Although the letter of anonymity is simple—we do not disclose our membership in A.A. at the public level—the humility and self-sacrifice involved in the spirit of anonymity provide potential for a lifetime of continuous spiritual growth, both for our individual members and for the Fellowship as a whole.
Right Click and SAVE AS to download this article from the 2018 Holiday Edition of Box 4-5-9
November 2, 2018
Dear trusted servant,
We are pleased to announce that Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., has licensed the Meeting Guide technology. Meeting Guide was launched in November 2015 and provides a platform for local A.A. entities (Areas, Intergroup/Central Offices, Districts, etc.) to post their local A.A. meetings and currently provides information to more than 100,000 users, reflecting some 86,000 meetings. Since the meeting information is all made available through the app’s mobile-friendly interface, those seeking a meeting have a simple, one-stop place to look.
The collated meeting information will be available in the future through G.S.O.’s website, www.aa.org, and will be a component of the proposed A.A.W.S. app. The intent of incorporating the Meeting Guide component is to make it easier for members to find A.A. meetings.
A.A. Intergroup/Central Offices, Districts and Areas that provide online meeting lists are invited to have their meetings displayed through the Meeting Guide. If you are already synchronizing your meetings through the Meeting Guide app there is no additional action necessary. When the new aa.org website launches at some point in 2019, your information will be seamlessly included.
Please note the meeting information database will operate completely independently from the Fellowship New Vision (FNV) database that is currently supported by G.S.O. Meeting Guide is a separate tool that offers A.A. entities full control of their local meeting information and collects it
in one place. Users of this new portal will be linked to the service entity providing the information.
Participation is, of course, voluntary, but the more connected the service is to the Fellowship as a whole, the more powerful a tool it will become. The current listing of Intergroups and Central Offices and other local entities in “A.A. Near You” on aa.org will not be impacted. Those wishing to contact A.A. in their community will still have access to the information that is currently available on the site.
We have developed instructions about how to connect with this new resource at https://meetingguide.aa.org. If you have any questions about this initiative or how to synchronize your meetings to this database, dedicated support is in place.
We welcome your input and suggestions.
G. Gregory T., General Manager
A.A. General Service Office
The following was reprinted from pages 25-27 the pamphlet P-17: Questions and Answers on Sponsorship with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.
A.A. service is anything whatever that helps us to reach a fellow sufferer — ranging all the way from the Twelfth Step itself to a ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee, and to A.A.’s General Service Office for national and international action. The sum total of all these services is our Third Legacy of Service. — The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service, page S1.
Sponsorship in A.A. is basically the same, whether helping another individual’s recovery or service to a group. It can be defined as one alcoholic who has made some progress in recovery and/or performance in service, sharing this experience with another alcoholic who is just starting the journey. Both types of service spring from the spiritual aspects of the program.
Individuals may feel that they have more to offer in one area than in another. It is the service sponsor’s responsibility to present the various aspects of service: setting up a meeting; working on committees; participating in conferences, etc. In this matter it is important for the service sponsor to help individuals understand the distinction between serving the needs of the Fellowship and meeting the personal needs of another group member.
A service sponsor is usually someone who is knowledgeable in A.A. history and has a strong background in the service structure. The A.A. member is introduced to a new language: G.S.R., D.C.M., area assembly, minority opinion. They will become familiar with the Traditions, Concepts and Warranties, as well as The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age and other A.A. literature.
The service sponsor begins by encouraging the member to become active in their home group — coffee, literature, cleanup, attending business or intergroup meetings, etc. The service sponsor should keep in mind that all members will not have the desire or qualifications to move beyond certain levels and, thus, the service sponsor might help find tasks appropriate to individuals’ skills and interests. Whatever level of service one performs, all are toward the same end — sharing the overall responsibilities of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Eventually, the service sponsor encourages the individual member interested in this form of service to attend district meetings and to read about the history and structure of Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point, the individual beginning this work should begin to understand the responsibilities of service work, as well as feel the satisfaction of yet another form of Twelfth Step work. Such individuals should be encouraged to take an active part in district activities and consider being elected to alternate positions in the district so as to learn about the responsibilities of various jobs in the service structure.
During this process it is important for the individual to continue to learn about the Three Legacies — Recovery, Unity and Service, and to understand that the principle of rotation not only allows them to move on in service, but also gives newer members the privilege of serving. Rotation also allows them to understand that no one should hold on to a position of trust long enough to feel a proprietary interest and thereby discourage newcomers from service.
Co-founder Dr. Bob said, “I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
1. Sense of duty.
2. It is a pleasure.
3. Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.”
The basis of all sponsorship is to lead by example. Service sponsors can impart to their sponsees the pleasure of involvement in the work of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is best done by stressing the spiritual nature of service work and by pointing out the usefulness of simple footwork and faith.
Now, through knowledge and experience, the newer member is aware that service is our most important product after sobriety. With this knowledge, the individual is able to share their vision with others and ensure the future of Alcoholics Anonymous.